Tag Archives: Donald Trump

So What, Now What?: Creating Wildly in Wild Times

Wildly Creative co-founder Shanta Lee reflects on the presidential elections in the United States through the lens of art and creativity.  Featured image is Truth to Power by Bill Dunlap.

 

It is difficult to turn in any direction in American life and not see any mass shock or despair over the outcomes of the recent presidential elections. While it is key to continue to move through the stages of grief and be where we are, yet there is another alternative as we try to understand what this all means as offered through art as a vehicle for our release.

“In dark times will there be singing?” Bertolt Brecht

The Vietnam War was a dark time that birthed a number of visual, written, and lyrical reactions from many artists. One of the most well known among these responses was John Lennon’s Imagine infused with the famous lines,

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…”

A 2011 piece titled Kite by Abdul Rahman Katanani made a visual statement about the realities of the lives of children impacted by the turmoil in Gaza.

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Kite by Abdul Rahman Katanani

 

In 2015, Kyle Abraham, a choreographer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, debuted the first part of Untitled America (a 3-part movement piece developed over a period of two years). Abraham’s work was a direct response to the prison system’s impact on black families in America.

 

Let me clarify my main point of using these examples. I am not saying that it must be the composers or songwriters, choreographers, poets, or any of the other shades of artistic witnesses among us who have the only license or skill to respond to the grief, dishevelement, and unrest within and around us. In fact, these are all sign posts (along with many others not mentioned here) and a more elaborate way of speaking to the famous lines offered by German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht,

“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”

These current times, like many other passing moments in history, often stir the creative spirits of a sleeping populace.

And sometimes, the creativity and art that is awakened is in service to teaching us how to become better architects of our mundane lives.  When I woke up the morning after the election results after a few hours of sleep, I remembered Brecth’s poetic lines while thinking about a way to move forward with the rest of my week given the emotional pulse in the United States.

I was also reminded of an intersecting moment between national wounds, darkness, and art-making from this summer. On a Sunday afternoon, my partner and I journeyed to his family cabin in the woods with the hope of making art.  It was not unusual except on this particular day, we were stuck inside due to the rain while our ears were held hostage by the latest news commentary about yet another black life taken by a police officer. This time, the brutal act was captured on video for all to witness.  My partner was crafting a piece in response to all of this, I don’t know how to make art today” while I shifted uncomfortably in my skin and chair pondering about how these dark times would impact all of us.

Historically speaking, tragedy is not a new phenomenon. However, the moments of human trauma around the world seems to be accessible in such a way that we can all instantly witness the things that we may feel too powerless to control or address.  During that moment within that rainy summer day and in the middle of the shock I was witnessing the day after the presidential elections, I wrote. By that Friday, my partner and I decided that we needed to purchase watercolor paints and brushes. We stood hand in hand as he gave me a crash course in painting with watercolors.   The rest of the day was spent painting, writing, and putting the finishing touches on a dinner party we were planning with a few friends.

In reflecting on our post-election response, the words of Pablo Picasso and Elliot Eisner seemed to provide some additional wisdom:

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” ~Pablo Picasso

“Art is literacy of the heart” ~Elliot Eisner

Perhaps what we will be doing is transforming this dark spot into words, movement, living and our being with each other as we move through the pain of it all.

Maybe this darkness will be the canvas that we have all needed to become the catalyst for unzipping our creative souls.

And if we allow art to soothe what is hurting right now, we might just become literate and fluent in ways of loving, living, creating, and being.

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Meet Toni Nagy Writer, Filmmaker, and Creative Dynamo

 

indexToni Nagy is a writer for Huffington Post, Salon, Alternet, Elephant Journal, Thought Catalog, Muses and Visionaries, Do You Yoga, and her own blog Toni Bologna. She has also written, directed, edited, and produced many short films, and hosts a podcast called The OverShare Show. She is on the board of the Monadnock International Film festival, and chair of the board for an organic farm called Farmer John’s Plot. She owns a dance studio in Brattleboro VT called SoBo Studios, and is an active member of the artistic community.  To check out Toni’s latest comedic work, you can watch 5 Reasons Why Feminists Should Vote for Donald Trump.

Wildly Creative:  When did you start nurturing your creative life and why?

Growing up I never considered myself a creative person. I was more of a jock. I suck at drawing, and even though I love singing, the sound of my voice is used as a torture mechanism on Game of Thrones. When I went to college I started dancing, and my whole world opened up. My love for movement awakened the creative inside me that was hiding under GAP clothes. 15 years later I own Sobo dance studio, and choreography is one of my true passions in life.

In my 20’s I thought I was more of a businessperson than an artist, but because of some health complications, I entered into a depression. During this time I didn’t know what to do with my life, or how to approach my healing.   Because I was spending most of my days at home in front of a computer, I taught myself the movie editing software Final Cut Pro, and started making short films for Youtube. The sadness in my heart translated into wanting to make other people laugh. So I would make spoof videos about “human cheese,” and tampons made from natural and organic baby goats.

When I turned 30 I started writing. I had birthed a baby and was SUPER bored being home with her all day. Wait… sorry that was my auto correct – I mean I was totally emotionally fulfilled and happy. I started blogging about my life, and that has led me into a full time comedy-writing career.

Wildly Creative: How important is living a creative life?

My creative life is important to me because it gives me a true sense of purpose. I love writing, I love dancing, and I love making movies.   I never feel like I have enough time to do these things. I don’t look at my watch waiting for my day to end. I love Mondays. I am my happiest when I am creating. My spirit feels light, and full of joy. That is until my mind sinks into the rabbit hole of questioning my “success” and if I will ever “make it big” – that’s when I have a total panic attack and try to flush my head down the toilet. But don’t worry, that only happens once a day.

Wildly Creative: What advice to you have for those trying to lead a wildly creative life?

My advice to those trying to pursue their passions is to know the difference between a hobby and a career. Some of my creative pursuits are hobbies. I don’t expect to make money. I do them for the love, and for my own personal satisfaction. Other creative projects I want to commodify. Yet to make money, you have to understand the business of the art you are entering. That is a whole other beast to conquer. PR, marketing, finances blah blah blah… I just fell asleep. Self- promotion is hard, and it’s own skill. But in today’s postmodern transhumanist world, you have to understand it.

Want to see and hear more about Toni?  Visit:
Toni Bologna
The Over Share Show
Cave Light Productions

 

Featured Image Credit:  Taurus from the Dancing Zodiac by AquaSixio